President of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Prof Tony Chan led a delegation to the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual conference in Davos, Switzerland. In Davos, HKUST was the only Asian university to conduct an IdeasLab, where four professors shared their insights with some of the world’s top minds and decision makers on how a seamless merging of virtual realities and our physical world could improve human life. Seven universities were invited to hold IdeasLab at Winter Davos this year: HKUST, Oxford, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon.
In the Global University Leaders Forum (GULF) - an exclusive WEF community consisting of the presidents of the world’s top 25 universities such as Yale, Oxford and MIT in which President Chan is also a member, Prof Chan co-hosted the session “University-Industry Collaboration in the 21st Century” with the presidents of Harvard University and Imperial College London—exploring how such partnership - in the form of secondment for example, can bring mutual benefits to both the company and the university.
The four professors who hosted the HKUST IdeasLab explored with renowned scholars and experts from around the world on what integration of the physical and cyber world would mean to the greater society. Dean of Engineering Prof Khaled Ben Letaief argued that the 5G technology will be a game changer by bringing to life the tactile internet, which will enable an unforeseeable plurality of new applications in E-health, connected homes, secure transport, education, robotics and much more. According to New Bright Professor of Engineering and Head of Computer Science and Engineering Prof Qiang Yang, this new world could be built through big data and artificial intelligence. Prof Pascale Fung from the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering, an expert in human-machine communications, claimed that robots of tomorrow will not just communicate but empathize with human to provide assistance and companionship. Finally, Prof Pedro Sander from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering discussed the challenges and advances in capturing and rendering images to allow the construction of a more detailed visual historical record of the world.
Prof Pascale Fung was also invited to co-host a dinner discussion titled “Evolution of Human Knowledge in the 21st Century”, and this session sparked a vibrant debate among an audience of business leaders, writers, artists and politicians on subjects including how machines can be taught to learn human languages and appreciate art and music.
President Chan said the University was honored to be part of this important annual event. “WEF is a great platform for different sectors in the world to discuss the most pressing issues and put forward possible solutions. We hope HKUST – as an intellectual engine in pursuit of new knowledge and research breakthroughs—can help address some of these global challenges.” he said.
State leaders like China’s Premier Keqiang Li and US Secretary of State John Kerry, business heavyweights such as Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Alibaba’s Jack Yun Ma, and key financial policy shapers including Governor of the People’s Bank of China Xiaochuan Zhou and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde were among the 2,500 global leaders who attended the event between 21 and 24 January 2015.
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